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28 April 2015


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"Orioles COO John Angelos offers eye-opening perspective on Baltimore protests"


[Baltimore] Orioles COO John Angelos, son of owner Peter Angelos in USA Today. (“Baltimore sports-radio broadcaster Brett Hollander took to Twitter to argue that demonstrations that negatively impact the daily lives of fellow citizens are counter-productive.” John Angelos responds.)


“Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

"That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

"The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.”

FB Ali


Re the Der Spiegel piece, I'm afraid it's a bit of 'puffery'. The documents it is based on, if authentic, relate to a former Iraqi military guy setting up an intelligence network for the IS forebear. This has been inflated to imply that he was really setting up the entire IS organization.



"And in case you missed it the second part of the Sheldon Adelson Primary for GOP nominees interested in becoming Israel's Deputy Prime Minister for American Administration was last weekend."

The Spirit of Col. Lang is strong in you!



"...the fight in Iraq, like Syria, and everywhere else is really about control of resources overlaid with religion."
Just how did you determine this?



That was in the last piece Adam posted. See my response to the poor guilt trip millionaire there.

Charles I

Apparently one of the Boston P.D's recurring peccadilloes was to handcuff some of those deemed worthy by one hand in back of the black mariah and then subject the saps to a violent spin around town that left them flailing about and battered without a hand being laid on them, all officers present and accounted for. . . . you never seem to hear a former officer come out the way Damien Corsetti has about being a Guantanamo torturer.

Hear a lot of retired sheriffs and narc saying what a waste the war on drugs is, but never what a civil rights outrage policing has degenerated into during it.

Peter C

Adam, thanks for the overviews. Police as revenuers is an old story for sure and just builds a big negative. I was shocked at how much revenue police can generate. Several years ago doing an asphalt rehabilitation project on a long 2 lane straight away, the speed of the vehicles had to be held to 25mph. We used the normal traffic control signs and such, but it was going to be difficult to control a several mile long section for 2 hours. Made contact with the State Highway patrol and they offered to bring in a speed enforcement team. 9 patrol cars, an aircraft, 2 motorcycles. Worked wonders to control the speed to 25mph and a success on applying the product. We were done within 3 hours and I went to lunch with the Highway Patrol Sargent. The Sargent told me the unit wrote over 20,000$ in traffic ticket in a three hour period. Don't forget it was easy to pull over several cars at once with just one car writing several at a time.


I agree about Der Spiegel....more than a few times I've noticed their 'scoops' seem more like controlled information campaigns...


I looked, really I did. But i've been up for 36 hours so the brain is drained.

I apologize for the repeat.


Not imply, FB Ali. Siegel claims he did.

Adam L Silverman


The Der Spiegel reporting aside, I interviewed over 45 Iraqi tribal leaders, many of whom were also Sunni and Shi'a imams, as well as other Iraqis - both elites, notables, and non-elites, between June and September 2008. These were in depth, semi-structured interviews. Additionally there were some impromptu ones at functions or when assisting with humanitarian assistance operations and Civil Affairs medical assistance ops. This includes impromptu interviews with internally displaced Iraqis we would encounter. The interviews lasted between two and five hours, a few took multiple sessions. This was all part of a tribal study and social history in support of my BCT. We collected high resolution digital images of a dozen tribal books, many of which included full tribal kinship trees. We quickly began to notice, after about the third or fourth interview, a repeated pattern to the answer. Specifically there were four thematic areas that almost everyone we interviewed would touch on. One of our semi-structured questions was to ask, if it wasn't offered by the interview subject, was if they were Sunni or Shii? We were told over and over that even if, say the Jabouri sheikh said he was Sunni, he told us that his cousins in Basra were Shia, because the majority of people in Basra are Shia. Or that there mothers or wives or sisters in laws or daughters in laws or sons in law were Shia because they were from different tribes. So we started to follow up with the question: "if you're Sunni, but your cousins are Shia, what about the sectarian conflict? What are you fighting over if not sectarian differences?" We were consistently told the fight was for resources: political power, land, water, control of power distribution, certain businesses and that religion was being used to manipulate Iraqis to divide them and set them to fighting against each other for the gains of those running the different extremist groups.

Adam L Silverman


No worries, it happens.


Adam -

If you get a chance, watch "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" (available on Netflix), a documentary about a heavy metal band in Iraq. Very interesting views of young musicians in Baghdad about war, politics, being a refugee, culture, etc. I thought of it because a musician in the movie makes the same point you make above. As I recall, the quote was something like "Dude, I'm Sunni and my wife is Shia. This religious war stuff is all bullsh!t."


May issue as German with Der Spiegel is that this weekly is quite good when it comes to some politicla topics, but usually really stinks when it writes about science and technology.

Der Speigel is often cited (IMHO much more than it deserves) in US media because it has an English on-line edition, while alternatives, which may deliver the same or better quality,do not have and many US papers are obviously not able or willing to pay for own native (German) speakers.

Short version: I do not know how to assess the ISIL article as it comprises both politics and technical aspects.


It will also likely go down the memory hole as the attempt is made to make what is going on in Baltimore all about the violence and not about the root causes of the discontent. - ALS

You mean the fifty plus years of one-party rule that has failed to adapt to the new realities of America?

Abu Sinan

The Saudi officer in charge of Yemeni operations replaced, the son of prince Nayf made crown prince and Adel al Jubair to become Saudi FM. I believe he is the first non member of the royal family to hold the position. Like his appointment as ambassador of the US, his appointment shows the growing rift with the Saudi royal family when it comes to foreign policy. He was placed in both positions so no member of the royal family, from either camp, would have to be placed in it. The rivalry between Bandar and Turkei was the prime example of this.

The Beaver


Fresh news this morning :

Al-Jubeir has been rewarded :( Are we going to see another Bandar as far as being very closed to some politicos on the Hill. Interesting time ahead !


"The 75 year old will be replaced by the Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir, whose appointment is a rarity because such a position normally goes to a member of the royal family."

Patrick Bahzad

Regarding the assessment of the piece from "Der Spiegel", I think that FB Ali's scepticism is very much to the point.

It is useful to remember that about two months ago, we saw a tidal wave of interest and support for an article in "The Atlantic", telling us that ISIS was in fact the muslim riders of the apocalypse, people with a death wish and out to realize the "prophecy" of Dabiq ... All you could hear was about Dabiq, Jesus, the Antichrist and all the other arguments presenting ISIS as a group with a purely religious fundamentalist approach and agenda.

Lately however, we've seen a series of articles, mostly in the US, but now also in a European paper (not surprised it is "Der Spiegel"), which all have the same baseline, and all play a little tune so that it sticks in people's heads: ISIS is the Baathists' creature, the Baathists were Saddam's men, and George W. toppled Saddam. Sounds like the beginning of a revisionist history of "Operation Iraqi Freedom", with the US being justified in hindsight to have ousted the dictator (which may have prevented Saddam from doing much much worse...).

I can smell the Presidential campaign warming up already ! Everything is put in place for a possible Hilary vs Jeb heated exchange over the handling of major foreign policy issues ... Wouldn't be surprised if the Benghazi story gets spinned again in a new (or already seen) direction.
As for ISIS, it's always been a hybrid organisation and structure, regrouping both a salafi/takfiri element and an ex-baathist/iraqi nationalist component. This is nothing new for those who've been studying the group. The operational procedures allegedly revealed by the seized documents aren't new either. Everyone is aware certain types of "know how" and skills that ISIS has displayed come straight out of the baathists' handbook of control of population by fear, terror and organisation of public life under the direction of the "State", whether it is baathist or "Islamic".
We've described this aspect in several pieces here on SST ... Guess we can be proud of having been right before the MSM came to the same conclusions.

Patrick Bahzad


I have no doubts as to the professionnal and efficient handling of the interviews and their analysis, but it is worth mentioning that in areas like Iraq, there's always a difference between what people say and what they think, between what they chose to say and what they chose to leave out, what they say and how they say it, what they say in an interview and what they say when talking to each other, or what they say because they know it and what they say because they heard it ... I could go on.
The lesson I've learnt from living or working for about 30 years in ME-countries, is that people talk a lot - like everywhere - but that conspiracy theories in particular are a kind of national "hobby" in all these countries and that what people say to a foreigner or even a non-Arabic speaker (talking in general here) is very different from what they say if you're accepted or invited into a group (family, clan, tribe, militant group). I'm not saying these people were lying, they weren't, but the truth is like an onion, there are several layers to it.
Also don't forget the context in which there interviews were conducted: 2008, the "Surge", alliances being forged between US forces and Sunni tribes who were eager to get their suitcases full of US dollars, just like the people within the Iraqi government had, and who were willing to downplay the fundamental differences there might have been with Shia and Kurd, just to show the Americans - who were pulling the strings at the time - that these tribal leaders could be trusted and just wanted some sort of revival of national unity instead of sectarian divides.
I've heard similar things being said by people back then who were totally on the same wavelength as the people you interviewed ... Today they're with ISIS though.
Allegiances may change much more quickly than we understand, as outsiders and foreigners. Same goes for reasons of a conflict, although it is obvious, as you put it that "political power, land, water, control of power distribution, certain businesses and that religion was being used to manipulate Iraqis to divide them and set them to fighting against each other for the gains of those running the different extremist group" did and do play a significant role in the current war.



IMO what we are seeing in SA is a generational changing of the guard that has no other particular significance and which is unlikely to be reflected in significant changes in policy. Adil al-jubeir is a faithful servant of the "state" who can be trusted to deal tactfully with the outside world and who has no future beyond the glass ceiling against which he is not pressed. pl

Patrick Bahzad


Agree about the significance of the new "portfolio" distribution within KSA royal family and government.
At the moment it seems Muhammad bin Nayef has scored more points than his younger cousin. Whether this can have a bearing on operations in Yemen is another question though.
we might be witnessing the birth of a new rivalry within the line of succession, just as their was between Bandar and Turki, only this time with Muhammad bin Nayef and Muhammad bin Salman ...


Jose et al

Root causes of the violence? A lack of educational opportunity? Students left high school classrooms to viciously attack police and firefighters. The public schools in Baltimore are inferior preparation for life? Rubbish! Baltimore schools have the same problems that we have here in Alexandria. In both places it is is virtually impossible to get Black male students to finish high schools even in vocational programs that virtually guarantee employment. Public expenditures for the schools do not support the contention that public education is neglected. Perhaps the Black male completion rate in high school in Baltimore has something to do with the lack of "opportunity" in Baltimore. The completion rate is 35%. Completion rates in New York City, Detroit, and Boston are even lower. There is high unemployment in the Black community in Baltimore? Well, duh! The massive industrial base that existed in Baltimore 40 years ago is gone, blown away by the winds of free trade and NAFTA style agreements. The massive Bethlehem company steel plant at Sparrow's Point employed thousands including a lot of Black people. The General Motors assembly plants, Proctor and Gamble plant, numerous breweries, the big Westinghouse factory and many, many other heavy industrial sources of employment are all gone. Baltimore was a mighty industrial city and that is all gone. I was in Baltimore for a year and a half in the 60s in training at the Army intelligence school and was taken around to all these places so that I could learn to describe such facilities.. Why would you not think that there would be high unemployment among those who do not seek the free education and training education available and prefer to stand around on street corners? At Ferguson and all along the recent "trail of tears" in American race relations, the media have moaned that the big problem is a lack of political representation for Blacks. Well, pilgrims, Baltimore government is a story of Blackness triumphant. The mayor, the police commissioner, the Head of Patrol of the police, the state's attorney (the prosecutor), the head of city council, numerous state legislators, and the Adjutant General of Maryland; all of these are Black. So, I guess a lack of representation is not a viable explanation. The media response to these riots and looting has been interesting. An intitial condemnation of the mob has been followed by hand wringing attempts to find some explanation, any explanation that would shift blame from the rioters to someone else, anyone will do. The pathetic Carol Costello yesterday repeatedly commented disapprovingly on the "big guns" that the NG carries. Did she want them to have smaller guns? Don Lemmon, also of CNN, was so offensive to the mayor of Baltimore and the Governor of Maryland that they finally turned and walked away from him in the middle of an interview. His import and that of others like Chris Cuomo has been clear. The rioters are innocent victims. And then yesterday the ultimate in this search for culprits other than the rioters was reached when Brook Baldwin suggested that insensitive and brutalized military veterans in the police provoked the mob through the violence of their interaction with the "community." We have come to a sorry pass in this country when such nonsense is tolerated. pl

Patrick Bahzad

There used to be a time when a working man, in the US and in the West in general, could get a job, even poorly paid, without having any education at all ... It was in the industrial cities like Baltimore or Detroit and others. Those days are gone as these jobs, for better or worse, are now in China.

The only thing I'm surprised about Baltimore is that the US don't seem to have a genuine "anti-riot" force that can be called in quickly enough and in numbers to deal with such situations and prevent the rioting from spreading.

If there's someone on SST with specific info about law enforcement in the US, I would be interested in an explanation, but it looked to met like the officers who were dealing with looters and rioters were mostly patrol officers who had been handed a shield and a helmet.

Riot control is a serious enough business for a country like the US to have a special police force, several thousand strong, to be ready to be called in, rather than the National Guard ... but then again, when the PDs are managed and funded on the city basis, it's more difficult to create a large force on a 24/7 standby for riot situations.


Charles I

"Apparently one of the Boston P.D's recurring peccadilloes" I know we gringos all look alike but don't you mean Baltimore. pl


Patrick Bahzad

We are not unitary state like France. We do not have anything like the CRS or Gendarmerie Mobile. This is a consequence of the federal structure of the government. pl

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